Volume 95, Issue 62

Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Search the Archives:
Tips for searching
Campus and Culture
Submit Letter
Contact Us
About the Gazette


Ryan Moore is a one man Twilight Circus of dub

Screw love, gimme action!

Porn o' Plenty

Mayer caught with Dirtybird

Ryan Moore is a one man Twilight Circus of dub

By Aaron St. John
Gazette Staff

"It's a sonic x-ray," offers Ryan Moore, defining the nature of dub.

Since 1995, Moore has released a series of albums under the name Twilight Circus Dub Sound System and seems to have a penchant for such cryptic statements. His summation of his career to this point is equally pithy: "Ryan catches the dub bug; genetically-altered."

A clearer definition of the genre: dub is a highly experimental offshoot of reggae – a slow, bass-heavy, primarily instrumental form that arose in the late 1960s.

Throughout his career, which has included playing bass guitar with the Legendary Pink Dots and Canada's industrial legends, Skinny Puppy, Moore has been involved in a wide variety of styles. Still, he says reggae – and specifically dub – has been his obsession for years.

"I started getting into reggae when I was about 13. Then some friends of mine played me some dub shit and it was over. There was a show on the college radio station that played dub and I taped it and would just listen to it over and over again. I couldn't quite get my head around it at first, but I think I understand now," he explains.

Judging from the latest release from Twilight Circus, Volcanic Dub, Moore understands the music quite well. It's an intense, groove-heavy record filled with unusual sounds and heavy textures.

Like Twilight Circus' past releases, Moore created the album entirely on his own, composing and producing the music at his studio in the Netherlands, where the Vancouver-born Moore has made his home for more than a decade.

Discussing the nature of his lone-man-in-the-studio mode, Moore says the songwriting process is, for him, an improvised phenomenon.

"I'll just start with a drum track and build it from there," he explains. "It's entirely random – I never have a plan when I start a song. I just stick out the antennae and see where it takes me, see what floats by. And, as I've gotten more proficient in the studio, the places it takes me are pretty cool."

Although Moore's music is certainly state-of-the-art, some tools he uses to create his music are definitely not. In this day of digital technology, Moore remains fiercely analog. "I do use some digital stuff, but there's so much you can do with analog that you can't with digital. You just can't get the same tape echo or reverb with digital. It just sounds different," he says.

"Plus, I really like all the big dials and knobs and stuff on the old analog gear."

Given that dub is so heavily based in the studio, the notion of a dub concert may seem somewhat at odds with the nature of the genre. Moore says translating dub into a live environment is difficult, but possible.

"You can approach it two ways. You can put together a band and try and re-create everything live, but the problem there is that a band tends to get stuck in the same groove. The other approach is what I'm doing now, a DJ sound system kind of thing," he says.

"I just set up and start playing some unreleased plates, spinning vinyl and maybe add some live bass over top. I like playing this way because I never know what's going to happen," he adds. "I just follow the track where it leads, depending on the vibe of the crowd. It's much more fluid, more open to new things this way."

In keeping with Moore's DIY work ethic, Moore has set up his own record company, M Records, for a couple of reasons for this.

"First of all, there's no major label in the world that would want to release my stuff because it's not going to sell five million copies or have a hit single. But aside from that, there's the fact that nobody cares about your music as much as you do. With my own label, I know things are being done exactly the way I want it and to the full extent," he says.

"I get to have complete artistic control. There's nobody telling me that I need to remix a track because the high-hat's too quiet. I get to do things my way, which is very important to me. There was never any question that Indie was the way to go."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2001